Graduation days can be hectic for a university president, particularly for a president soon to leave his post.
But for Brigham Young University President Jeffrey R. Holland, graduation days are the most rewarding ceremonial moments in a university president's life."Nothing in the presidential year is more rewarding than the happiness we see in the faces of these graduates and the pride their parents, wives, husbands, and other family members and friends feel," he said at BYU's 114th annual commencement Friday.
Commencement was not only a tribute to one of the largest graduating classes ever with more than 4,200 graduates but also a tribute to Elder Holland, who was recently called to be a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"This is the last time Jeffrey Holland will participate in such a ceremony as president of BYU," said President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church.
The audience joined with President Hinckley in applause and a standing ovation for Elder Holland and his wife, Patricia, for the contribution they have made to BYU.
"For nine years I have watched a legion of young men and women cleaning our windows and floors, trimming the lawn and shrubs and laboring a hundred other ways in order to stay in school," Elder Holland said.
"The industry, determination, devotion and sacrifice of our students, and those who have loved and supported them, is one of the great unspoken sermons on this campus, which only a few of us watching behind the scenes have been privileged to see."
"I leave you today speaking from the past (which I am now about to enter), speaking from the oldest, most traditional and loveliest spot on campus, the Karl G. Maeser Memorial Building."
Following Elder Holland's speech, a video presentation was shown featuring an earlier address he gave on Karl G. Maeser and the first graduating class of the Brigham Young Academy in 1912.
"I ask you to remember their visions and dream for BYU always," Elder Holland said. "We pass those dreams on to you and in so doing, step aside, expressing love for you and testifying of Him who makes all our joy possible and our dreams possible."
Elder Holland, 48, had previously served as commissioner of the LDS Church Education System for four years and BYU dean of religious education before that.